History of South America

And who was Alejandro Octavio Deustua?

Last updated:2022-07-25

More than three decades ago, there was a private school in Magdalena del Mar, administered by the also deceased Federation of Bank Employees (FEB) that responded to the name of Alejandro Octavio Deustua . Few knew then -as few know now- that this name was intimately linked to the development of educational ideas in our country, as a representative of one of the most influential philosophical currents in the thought of the late nineteenth century. His ideas, considered aristocratic, had the background of seeking to create bases of leaders among the most prepared, something that Peru has never managed to achieve, as we see every year or in every electoral process. Let's learn a little more about Alejandro Octavio Deustua in this new installment of our biographical series “And who was it?”

The influence of Alejandro Octavio Deustua in thought, and therefore in the structures of Peruvian society at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, is of a remarkable magnitude, which has repercussions to this day.

To understand Deustua it is necessary to delve into the roots of the philosophical current known as spiritualism, originating from the German philosopher Rudolf Christoph Eucken and the French Henri Bergson. This form of reflection defended the creative freedom of the human soul against the corset or straitjacket that positivism with its scientific methods, the other predominant school of thought in Peru and the world at the beginning of the 20th century, wanted to impose on it.

Son of Mr. Remigio Deustua, notary public, and Mrs. Toribia Escarza, Alejandro Octavio Deustua saw the light March 22, 1849, in Huancayo, Junín. From an early age he showed signs of his qualities to interpret very complex forms of thought, reaching his bachelor's degree in Philosophy from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos at just twenty years old. Three years later, that is, in 1872, he obtained a Doctorate degree in the same specialty, thus evidencing his vocation for the study of the discipline that emerged in Greece.

This Peruvian scholar conceived of philosophy as the creative paradigm of a society, whose main engine of well-being and development was a strong, dynamic and always at the forefront educational sector. The creation of a nucleus of thinkers trained in National Universities and later called to lead the country was his main one, as can be seen in many of his works.

He held several academic positions, always expressing his interest in launching a reform of the Peruvian educational system and thus achieving a robust structure of intellectuals that would be the engine of national progress. He gets his first position as Associate Professor of General and Aesthetic Literature at the Dean University of America, a position he held between 1882 and 1884. In 1884 he finally obtains the main chair of the aforementioned Humanities subjects.

In 1895, the Government of Peru noticed the great potential of the still young thinker and appointed him Director of Justice, Worship, Instruction and Charity, as well as First Class Secretary in the representations of Peru in Argentina and Brazil.

he is sent to Europe, for the first time, in 1895, commissioned by the government of Nicolás de Piérola to investigate school teaching methods and analyze their possible adaptation to the Peruvian reality. In 1901 he is elected Senator for Lima in the ranks of the civilista party, a party that advocated the ideas that were the center of Deustua's thought, that is, the administration of the Peruvian territory by the best prepared classes.

In 1915 he was promoted to Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of his Alma Mater and was finally appointed Rector of the same, in 1928. Among his most important works should be mentioned:The Ideas of Order and Freedom in the History of Human Thought (1922), General Aesthetics (1923), National Culture (1937), The Problem of Education, Report on Teaching, The University Problem, and Political Culture (1936) . His debates about the educational reality of Peru with Manuel Vicente Villarán are well known. , from the other shore of intellectual thought, more associated with popular sectors than the aristocratic position of Deustua.

The thought of this Peruvian intellectual is of an invaluable dimension because his contribution to finding a solution to the problem of the education sector in our country continues to be transcendental, even 69 years later of his death.

Alexander Octavio Deustua he died in Lima, in 1945, at the age of 96.